In 2009 Quirk Books published Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which is about precisely what you’d imagine it’s about. It’s the world of country dances, courtships, and wry social commentary…with zombies. Elizabeth Bennet is well-trained in martial arts but rather prejudiced, and Darcy is a skilled monster-hunter but quite proud–of course they, after several misunderstandings and zombie slayings, fall in love. The book spent months on the New York Times Bestseller list, and several more titles in this new genre quickly followed. You can check out the Wikipedia article for more information and backstory.
These are the funny, weird B-movies of horror fiction. When I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I was reminded of Austen’s Gothic spoof Northanger Abbey. One could make the argument that PPZ is a reaction to and spoof on both the popularity of Austen’s novels and the popularity of zombies–and how it’s hard to think of two more disparate genres to try to combine. Just like with B-movies, though, some are so bizarre and campy they’re fun, and others are…just bizarre and campy. The same is true with mash-up novels. Some are clever, stylistically well-done and work in their own weird way (Jane Slayre, for instance, which you can preview here).
I’m echoing reviewer Sam Anderson, who made much the same points in his review of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. You can also visit the Huffington Post’s slideshow about the explosion of monster book mashups for an idea of what’s out there.
Entertainment that’s campy and weird suits Halloween just as much as a straight-up scary book or novel. We could say a mash-up is a classic work of literature putting on a costume, trying on a new persona, and attempting to freak us out or make us laugh. So if you’re after something a little different this year…
…do the Monster Mash!